three writing challenges that can make you a greater author
If you're a writer, you've probably heard the following question: "What's your genre?" Or you were asked: "What are you writing?"
As writers, we tend to find a creative “happy place” and stay in three areas: medium, form and genre. This enables us to find a consistent voice and target our work to a specific reader.
However, if you remain in these fields without any deviation, this can have significant disadvantages that endanger the quality of your writing and the enjoyment of writing itself.
Why you have to challenge yourself
A disadvantage is complacency. Write the same thing for too long in the same way and the work becomes boring, resulting in stories that are likely to be boring to read.
Another disadvantage is lack of imagination. If you stay within the boundaries of medium (what you're writing on), form (how poetic your writing is) and genre (what norms your writing follows), your work can be doomed to repeat itself or fall victim to old clichés.
The key to avoiding complacency and unnecessary storytelling is to challenge yourself with new or different types of creativity.
Just as you start a new practice routine or add different exercises or stretches to your training, challenging new writing tasks will help you grow in a valuable and meaningful way.
My writing challenge: host a murder
I faced such a challenge a few years ago when some friends asked me to write a dinner party with crime novels.
I accepted the challenge with grubby arrogance. I had recently attended such a mysterious dinner party that my friends bought from a box, and found the experience disappointing and the "whodunit?" Frustratingly complex. I assumed I could do better.
I was quickly humiliated. It's creating a crime thriller dinner party Complex. First, it's not a typical story or a typical book. There are actually eight stories (because I created eight characters) that are told in small pieces based on courses in a meal.
But I haven't stopped here. I increased the complexity by putting evidence in tiny envelopes that were glued to the inside of each character's brochure. Then I decided on a wrong ending, where the first killer is just a farmer real Killer who gets the chance to secretly kill another character before dessert!
(When my friends hosted this, everything went well – until the murderer decided to take out a dinner guest, who is a great actress, who frightened her husband by pretending to suffocate!)
Challenge and reward
Looking back, I am grateful that I accepted this creative challenge because it forced me out of my comfortable writer's box.
At first I had to write differently form than my usual narrative prose. A crime thriller dinner game must act both as a story and as a story and a complicated role-playing game. The materials I wrote – particularly the host's book – have taken on various voices and styles, including everything from a user manual to a sales pitch.
Second, I had to write differently medium than the typical side. Now I wrote back story in brochures and small pieces of evidence. Suddenly the story was hidden in a receipt or text string rather than in pages and paragraphs!
And third, I had to write differently genre than I usually do. This was not just a thriller, I made it belligerent and called it The last round from Burt Pabsthardt and set it up in a fictional version of NASCAR. Think CLUE is meeting Talladega nights.
When I left my comfort zone in all three of these typically well-established areas, I had to stretch, bend and grow.
And if you take on your own challenge, you will too.
It's your turn: 3 challenges in creative writing
Ready to take on the challenge? Here are three writing challenges that will help you write outside the box and become a stronger, more creative storyteller.
Challenge 1: Write in a different medium
Think about literature medium as a "delivery vehicle".
When you write stories, your vehicle is the page (printed or on the Internet). When you make art, your medium can be oil on canvas, metal scraps or food scraps.
So how do you change the “delivery vehicle” for your letter?
We write constantly when you are not on the Internet or on a printed page. We just don't notice it.
Think of posters, flyers and signage. Think infographics and Pinterest pins. Think of greeting cards, games, decorations and other forms of “word art”.
Think of the stage and the screen.
Challenge yourself to write in a different medium. How can you tell a story through a piece? An infographic? A shopping list?
If you choose to tell a story in a different medium, new creative muscles will form.
You start to see your story in a new, lively way.
You also start to think about your reader in new ways. "How is it going to be? appearance?" You think this is a strange thought for a literary artist.
But it is a different and powerful thought that expands your skills in a way that you cannot predict.
Challenge: Take an existing story or chapter that you have written and retell it in a new medium such as a game, infographic, or game.
Challenge 2: Write in a different literary form
Think about literature form as form or structure.
This can usually be narrowed down to two categories: poetry and prose.
But to really challenge yourself, try connecting the two in your letter. Tell prosaic stories with poetic moments. Write poems that contain sections of the prose.
Also try mixing media while mixing forms, e.g. B. use found quotes in a poem or market slogans in dialogue.
The goal of this challenge is to broaden your understanding of what "writing a story" is and to go beyond all the limits that exist in your head. No matter which side of the prose / poem you fall on, it is tempting to believe that the other side is too different to be successful.
Don't let this false belief stop you from challenging yourself. Take creative risks with Form and feel your literary muscles grow.
Challenge: If you are writing a short story, try to write it as a poem. If you're writing a poem, you might turn it into a flash fiction or a short story.
Challenge 3: Write in a different genre
Think about literature genre as a specific "aroma" of the story.
Just as we expect cherry-flavored sweets to taste something like a real cherry, readers expect stories with a "mystery" taste to feel like a real mystery. And within this genre or taste there are subgenres with different and unique flavors.
Many writers find a genre and stick to it. This is smart because many readers do the same and want authors who consistently provide great stories for reading.
However, writing in a different genre has many advantages for your artistic growth (and your personal health).
First, add a "taste" to your literary buffet. You used to be an author with a taste, but now you have more to offer.
Second, you learn things about other genres that could help make the stories you write "normal" even better!
Try a different genre and you will become a much more flexible and imaginative storyteller.
Challenge: Write a short story in the "opposite" genre of what is normal for you. If you write horror, try romance. When writing science fiction, try historical fiction.
The benefits of growth
Creativity is a very human muscle. It requires strength and flexibility from body, mind and soul.
And just like the physical muscles that are trained everywhere in gyms and YMCAs, the creativity muscle needs exercise or the risk of atrophy increases. To do this, you have to go beyond the limits of comfort and familiarity.
Try one of these writing challenges and enjoy growing your creative skills!
How do you challenge yourself to write in different or unusual ways? Let us know in the comments.
Choose one of the three writing challenges from this article and spend 15 minutes taking risks and training your creative muscles. When you're done, share your practice in the comments below and leave feedback for your co-writers!
You deserve a great book. That's why David Safford writes adventure stories that you can't write. Read his latest story on his website. David is a language teacher, writer, blogger, hiker, Legend of Zelda fanatic, puzzler, husband and father of two great children.